Sunday 4 November 2012

Using NFC enabled phones to the full

With many top mobile phones available with NFC capability, including top brands like Nokia, Samsung , LG, and many of the Xperia range of phones; we felt it was time to test out NFC using our review handset the Samsung Galaxy S3. 

Where to buy NFC Tags

Turning to London's Covent Garden based RapidNFC, who are quickly establishing themselves as Europe's largest supplier of NFC tags and products, we acquired some of the most popular NFC tags for personal use, to see the potential of NFC. 
 What is NFC? 
For those not really fully understanding what the Near Field Communications chip in their mobile device does we think we'd better give a quick Dummy's Guide to possibly the greatest mobile innovation since BlueTooth. That's not to say that this wireless standard is not quickly becoming the media's darling- during the latest London Olympics athletes were supplied with NFC capable Galaxy S3's to better enable micro purchases through collaborating retailers, like Pret a Manger, who had enabled cash points capable of taking preloaded payments for micro transactions for small values, like a lunchtime sandwich. 
 The new wireless standard allows two capable devices to pass information between themselves. The device can be a mobile handset, or even an encrypted object. This really makes a difference as even an innocuous object like a sticker can be encrypted with information that your mobile can read, and it doesn't require a power source.
 Marketing personnel would immediately see the potential in this for multiple uses like encrypting a personalised sticker to be attached and ready to be scanned in a public place which could provide great, inexpensive advertising. For example if the latest movie like Skyfall has prominent posters in accessible areas like a tube station, then those could be scanned by interested people and carry out all sorts of functions like taking people straight to the movie's website. 

 Uses of NFC 
Broadly it can be used for what we can loosely term personal use such as task launching and more commercial uses such as mobile payments, product identification and even security functions. Commercial uses are so wide ranging that they will need a full article by themselves to cover so with the useful products that we obtained from RapidNFC we're going to look in depth at some of the useful and time saving personal functions of NFC. 

 NFC to improve everyday mobile use.
where to get cheap nfc keychains
NFC Products from RapidNFC
 In possession of some of the more popular enabled products I set about making my home and office a NFC enabled zone. What's great about the mini nfc logo stickers and hang tags that I had is that use was only limited by my imagination. The Covent Garden NFC suppliers have the means to encode up to 200 thousand tags a day, but it is completely possible, and very simple, for a user to encode their own tags with any of a number of apps readily available, we'll be looking in to some of the easiest apps for an Android user to use to encode their own NFC tags in a later article. At the moment I've got a set up that works for me by having a small sticker on the bedside cabinet that when tapped sets the daily alarm on and the ringtone to silent. The NTAG203 with a scan strength of 7 even works through the mobiles hardback case. On my car keys I've used a hang tag that when touched puts the phone into Android Jellybean's useful driving mode( where incoming callers are verbally identified and text messages read out), turns off Wi-fi, turns on mobile data and activates Google Maps! Office NFC use sees another of the unobtrusive stickers on the desk activating Wi-Fi again, loading a popular news site and setting the phone to vibrate. The NFC enabled pen is yet to be programmed but certainly provides an office talking point when people enquire about it! 

 As a way to show off your phones capability NFC is definitely future technology today. But more than that it also allows some real time saving and avoids the stress of hunting through your devices to complete often rote tasks.
 Beyond the personal level there are a multitude of 'commercial' uses for NFC. If you're wanting to look into this for any of the above uses or even just for interests sake, the trial samples from RapidNFC proved reliable and functional and their wide range of products provide a great way for either business or personal users to explore modern mobile's immense NFC potential.


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